Walter Brooks was born on the Blocks at Barrow Hill in 1897, one of 12 children born to Leonard and Elizabeth Brooks. Walter’s father, Leonard, and his three older brothers all worked in the local collieries.
In 1921, Walter married Elsie Lowrey and the couple lived in a Block house of their own, at 62, Barrow Hill. Their daughter Doris, was born in 1923.
Walter was very active in the Methodist Church and served for 20 years as a preacher. He was a member of the choir, President of the Christian Endeavour, Church Steward, Sunday School Superintendent and a trustee of the Ebeneezer Chapel at Barrow Hill.
In 1921, Walter became the secretary of the Barrow Hill branch of the Labour Party. He successfully contested the Barrow Hill Ward in 1938, and was elected as a councillor to the Staveley Urban District Council. He was also a member of the Staveley Co-operative Society management board.
Walter died on 31st March 1939, at the young age of 41, after an illness.
In his obituary, the Chair of Staveley UDC, Mr F. Wickens, said that, although Walter Brooks had served only a short time on the UDC, “everyone had been impressed by his sincerity. He was no lover of the limelight, but always strove to give of his best for any cause he had at heart. He was zealous for the welfare of his native village but he was not parochially minded and was a man of wide interests and wide vision. He interpreted life in terms of service and the more one knew him, the more one loved and respected him.”
After the Second World War, “new” houses were built in Barrow Hill and Brooks Road was named in Walter’s memory. His place on the Staveley U.D.C. was filled by an Independent candidate, Arthur Hill, the son of James Cullen Hill after whom Hill Grove was named.
© Ann Lucas